US appeals court rejects former President Trump’s request for immunity

Former US President Donald Trump can be tried for his attempts to overturn the 2020 US presidential election, an appeals court has ruled. The federal appeals court in the District of Columbia rejected Trump’s request for immunity from prosecution in a landmark decision on Tuesday. The three judges said Trump’s claim that he could not be prosecuted criminally in the matter was untenable. Trump announced that he would appeal the decision.

The justices said Trump’s view of “absolute immunity” was not supported by precedent or the Constitution. In their justification, they wrote that they had weighed Trump’s claimed “interest in immunity” against the “indispensable public interest in continuing these proceedings.”

The decision represents a significant legal setback for the 77-year-old Trump, who is currently on track for his third consecutive presidential nomination for the Republican Party.

His spokesman Steven Cheung announced the former president’s appointment shortly after the decision was announced. “A President of the United States must have full immunity in order to function properly and do what needs to be done for the good of our country,” Trump himself said on his online platform Truth Social. “A nation-destroying decision like this cannot be allowed.”

The appeals court stayed the immunity decision until next Monday to give Trump a chance to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The judge can then decide whether to take up the case or allow the appeal court’s decision to apply.

Trump was indicted by the federal judiciary last August for his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and thus stay in power. The ex-president’s lawyers countered that Trump enjoyed “absolute immunity” and could not be prosecuted for actions that occurred during his term in the White House.

According to original plans, the trial against Trump for attempted election manipulation was scheduled to begin in federal court on March 4th – right in the middle of the Republican presidential primaries.

Trump’s lawyers tried several times to delay the start of the trial until after the presidential election in November. The judge responsible ultimately had to postpone the trial date pending the ruling on Trump’s immunity.

In justifying their unanimous verdict, the appellate judges declared that in the criminal proceedings, former President Trump had “become a citizen Trump, with all the defense options of any other defendant.” However, he is no longer protected by any immunity in connection with his previous government activities as president.

With their decision, the appeal judges confirmed an assessment made by a federal judge in December. This had rejected Trump’s immunity on the grounds that four years as president had not given him “the divine right of kings to avoid the criminal liability to which his fellow citizens are subject.”

After the November 2020 election, Trump refused to acknowledge his defeat against Democrat Joe Biden. Rather, he made allegations of massive electoral fraud, which have often been refuted. Trump’s campaign against his election defeat culminated in the attack on the congressional seat in Washington by radical supporters of the elected incumbent on January 6, 2021.

In December, the Supreme Court of the state of Colorado ruled that the right-wing populist was not allowed to take part in the Republican presidential primary there because of his role in the storming of the Capitol. Trump then appealed to the Supreme Court in Washington, which is scheduled to hear the case on Thursday.